Bumpy Transition From Grey To White Market In Ontario For Bet365

Written By Dave Briggs on April 4, 2022 - Last Updated on May 24, 2022

Ontario sports bettor Garnet Barnsdale said he’s still disheartened he had to cash out a futures wager on Kansas winning tonight’s NCAA men’s basketball championship. Missing out on a potential payout of $3,000 was one thing. Not being able to see a sharp wager through to its conclusion is another.

“I’m still kind of disappointed. This will never happen again. I’m never going to pick one team out of 64 and get to the final game,” he said.

The Toronto-based gambler, who is well known in horse racing circles as an expert harness racing handicapper, is something of a victim of a grey-market operator transitioning to the white market.

Some bettors are reportedly having difficulty transferring money over from unregulated accounts to regulated ones. We’re following that side of the story and will update when there’s more information.

Barnsdale’s story is another angle on what, reportedly, has been a challenging transition on day one.

Plunked down $200 on Kansas to win it all at 15-1

Barnsdale said he placed his $200 wager through bet365 online sports betting after the March Madness bracket was released.

“I saw Kansas at 15-1. They looked like they had, by far, the easiest bracket. I’m no NCAA basketball expert by any stretch, but I follow it a bit. I thought at 15-1 I’d take a flier on them and I dropped $200 down to win $3,000.”

Barnsdale was happily sailing along with the Jayhawks through the tournament until last week.

Ontario Sports Bettors Facebook group alerted him to potential problem

Shortly after accepting an invitation to the Ontario Sports Bettors group on Facebook, he read an article from our sister site, PlayCanada.com about how grey-market sportsbooks will cancel future bets before the April 4 regulated launch.

“I read this article and I’m talking my son, Nick, about it. We were kind of going back and forth, ‘What should we do?’ The more we hear about the grey market sites, the more we decided that they could do anything they want at this point. How do I know they’re not going to zero my bet out tomorrow?

“This was before the Final Four games and the (Kansas) game against Villanova. I had won some money on a parlay the night before so I parlayed all that on Villanova as a hedge. It was a $680 bet to pay me $1,300 with the spread, thinking if Villanova wins outright and my Kansas bet goes dead, I’ve got the $1,300. If Kansas wins by 1, 2, 3 or 4 and beats the spread, then I cash that $1,300 on Villanova and I’ve still got a live ticket.

“As we’re contemplating that, I’m looking at it and they’re offering me a $984 cash out on the Kansas bet. So, do you just cash it out and it’s finished? This is a feature on a lot of these sites where as you’re going along they’ll offer you cash outs, even live in-game. Sometimes you take it and it works and sometimes you take it and it doesn’t.”

Despite a potential loss, he remains philosophical

Barnsdale cashed out both bets for a return of $1,660.

At least he is, somewhat, philosophical about the whole thing.

“I really wanted to wait until Saturday, because I knew if Kansas won then the cash out was going to go up, but it ended up not really mattering that much, because it wouldn’t have gone up to $1,660. They’re favoured. So, it wouldn’t be more than half. So, I took that money.”

Customer service response was lacking

He’s more frustrated with the customer service response at bet365. Before cashing out, he emailed customer service and waited. When he did not hear back, he cashed out. After doing so, he received a customer service email saying, “‘We intend to honour all our bets and pay out all the future bets.’ And I’m like, ‘Well, that’s not good.’

“I get that email and now I’m not very happy because I cashed the thing out and I could have ridden the thing out at least until Saturday. But, whatever. I figure it’s done. Then, two days later, I think Friday or Saturday, I get an email stating the exact opposite… They basically said, ‘If the cash out value is higher than your bet, we’re going to honour that’ and pay out the highest cash out value. So, some people win, some people lose.”

PlayOntario did reach out to the PR team at the UK-based operator. A publicist said it was a matter for customer service to deal with, “not something that we’d comment on.”

Better advance planning needed

Barnsdale said he’s bet about $10,000 a month since January. He said he is frustrated bet365 didn’t plan better for this eventuality. The company is said to have one of the largest customer bases in Ontario for a grey market operator transitioning to white.

“That’s a lot of the complaints on Twitter. One guy said, ‘They had to have known a month ago or three weeks ago that this was going to happen, so they’ve taken bets on 64 or 65 teams for this NCAA… I just think it was poorly managed by that site.

“When I got the email a couple days ago saying all the things that are going to happen when they change over and the bets are going to be zeroed out, I responded and I copied and pasted the other (customer service) guy’s information and said, ‘Why would you give me such blatantly false information from this guy?’ They gave me some kind of answer like, ‘We’re sorry that you didn’t understand this.’ ‘No, no. I understand this. You told me one thing and then told me another thing two days later which affected me cashing this bet out.’

“It turned out probably the best result for me, but I’m not watching the game tonight.”

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Dave Briggs

Before joining PlayOntario, Dave spent more than 25 years as a writer and editor, mainly covering horse racing in Canada. He holds a master's degree in journalism from Western University and was a 2018 inductee into the Communicators' Corner of the U.S. Harness Racing Hall of Fame. Beyond a deep passion for family and music, Dave has a mostly-tragic, life-long love of Detroit sports teams. He lives in Port Stanley, Ontario with his wife and their beloved Vizsla named California.

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